Shane Schleger is tired of boisterous rails
Since ESPN ramped-up their World Series of Poker Main Event footage back in 2003 one unintended consequence has been the advent of the attention-seeking poker player. This problem came to a head during the biggest years of the Boom, when poker players were trying to draw as much attention to themselves as humanly possible in an effort to attract the ESPN cameras and potential sponsorship deals. The WSOP dealt with this problem by implementing “excessive celebration” rules, which along with the loss of sponsorship opportunities after UIGEA and Black Friday basically curtailed this behavior.
Now that the player celebration issue has for all intents and purposes been solved, another phenomenon that essentially started with the 2005 WSOP Main Event run of eventual champion Joe Hachem is also coming to a head: Rowdy rails.
I first voiced my displeasure with the way spectators behave while watching tournament poker about a year ago, and while I sometimes feel like the two old guys in the balcony of the Muppets Show, it really is quite annoying and getting out of hand. Nowadays it seems as if there is a one-up mentality to rails, where friends and well-wishers feel they need to outdo their predecessors, and that the only way to have a successful rooting section is by becoming a story in their own right.
After very little talk of “loud rails” it seems like I now have someone on my side, as Team PokerStars Online Pro Shane Schleger fired off a volley of tweets on this very issue on Thursday:
So why does this bother me? Basically I don’t think a player’s rail should act any differently than the player themselves. It’s disrespectful, and imagine you are some lone poker player playing in your first WSOP and you make an incredibly deep run only to find yourself booed and jeered by what amount to cat-calls from the rail of some pro? It would be incredibly off-putting and distracting to be put in this situation, but like so many other aspects of the game poker pros tend to shoot themselves in the foot by offending casual and/or potential players.
This isn’t the only issue with loud rails though, as boisterous rails also create the following problems:
* The Slippery Slope effect: When does it end and what constitutes too much celebration?
* Creates a monkey see monkey do problem with new fans who will see this as acceptable behavior on both sides of the rail.
* It’s distracting for players at the final table being railed as well as other players around the room.
* It reflects poorly on poker and poker players.
* It causes a potential rules violation in that rails could prearrange specific chants to thwart the one player per hand rule.
* It has the potential to slow the game down or cause a delay.
So what should/can be done about the rails at the World Series of Poker? Here are my suggestions:
* Chanting, songs, or booing/jeering of any kind should be forbidden.
* Appropriate amounts of enthusiasm can be displayed. Maybe implement a decibel meter?
* All cheering (as outlined above) should take place AFTER a hand concludes.
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